Today, we still think of urban transformation as a process led by planners and architects. And while it is undeniable that these two professions have made a major contribution to the global process of urbanisation in the modern era, it is difficult to claim that our cities are the results of their efforts alone. Many other actors have been (and still are) involved in their continuous making and re-making. Arguably the most significant of these actors are real estate developers. Think of Georgian London, post-war Rome, or contemporary Delhi: all cities whose extraordinary growth was not led by grand plans or architectural visions, but by the logic of the real estate development and construction industries.
The relative unimportance of authorship in the general economy of real estate development partially explains the lack of literature devoted to the latter in our discipline. Instead, it is imperative that we, as architectural historians, start considering real estate development as a key site for architectural and urban production. The conference Architecture and Real Estate: Historical Perspectives proposes to discuss the processes and products of real estate development by foregrounding them as objects of architectural and urban history.
The event is jointly organised and supported by the Chair Maarten Delbeke and the Chair Laurent Stalder at the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture (gta), ETH Zurich, and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).